The Internal Revenue Service has been ordered to provide answers by the close of business Friday on the status of missing emails from Lois Lerner, the protagonist in the admission that the agency subjected conservative organizations to improper scrutiny when they sought a special tax-exempt designation.
The order came on June 4, when Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, sided with the advocacy group Judicial Watch. Judge Sullivan ordered the IRS to give the group an update on the processing of 1,268 backup tapes, which contain lost emails from Lerner that have apparently been recovered.
Lerner’s emails went missing, according to the IRS, after her computer’s hard drive crashed. Judicial Watch is suing to get Lerner’s emails, which the IRS had said were irretrievably lost and destroyed.
Some emails were retrieved from 744 backup tapes now in the possession of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which Judicial Watch says yielded 32,000 emails from Lerner’s account.
At issue now are 424 additional tapes. The conservative watchdog group wants to know their contents, whether they are now in the hands of the inspector general and whether the IRS must release the emails under the Freedom of Information Act.
“The Obama IRS obstructed and lied to a federal judge and Judicial Watch in an effort to hide the truth about Lois Lerner’s emails,” alleged Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, in a statement Monday announcing the judge’s order.